Rantisi And Najaf Sunday Herald

Rantisi and Najaf

The Sunday Herald correctly points out that the Israeli murder of Abdul Aziz Rantisi, the head of the political wing of the Hamas party, on Saturday, will cause further trouble in Iraq.

With al-Anbar province tense and US troops surrounding Najaf, one could not imagine a worse time for Bush to give a green light to Sharon for further provocations. One can only conclude that neither Ariel Sharon nor Bush and his Neocon advisers give a fig about the lives of US and Coalition servicemen in Iraq. Otherwise, they’d stop with the theatrics. If the Israelis had wanted to arrest Rantisi, they could have. They pulled off Entebbe. This extra-judicial murder of political opponents is just showing off, and it is of course ethically despicable and a war crime for which one only wishes Sharon could be made to stand trial in the Hague. If Rantisi could have been proved to have committed an act of terrorism, he should have been arrested and tried in Gaza for murder. I condemn violence by Palestinian leaders just as I do that done by Israeli ones, and do not have a problem with terrorists being punished for killing innocent people. I do have a problem with political rivals whacking one another unnecessarily, especially when it is likely to get some of my friends killed.

I feel like something of a fool for bothering to say all this, since it is obvious that Sharon is behaving like a Mafia don–Arik Soprano–not a head of state. But the commentary I saw on US cable television was all about who could fall over themselves more quickly to praise this ‘decisive action against terrorism.’ The state of public discourse in the US (and Israel) is deplorable when it is not even possible publicly to criticize extra-judicial killing in the mass media.

Meanwhile, the Shiite establishment’s attempt to mediate between Muqtada al-Sadr and the Americans appears to have broken down. The Iranian mediation attempt was abandoned altogether, presumably both because of the assassination of the Iranian cultural attache and because of the opposition of Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei.

Anyone who doubts that events in various places of the Muslim world are related should consider that the siege of Fallujah even appears to have provoked a firefight between Jordanian and US peacekeepers in the UN contingent at Mitrovica, Kosovo. So much for the UN saving the US in Iraq. Who’s going to keep peace among the peace keepers?

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